The Friends was incorporated in 1974 as a non-profit organization seeking to create support for the then-emerging county library system. The founders were six writers, grounded in the philosophy of community involvement, who wanted to focus their attention on the growing library system’s future. Among them were Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Helen Muir, Douglas Fairbairn, Mae Knight Clark, Pamela Johnson and Nixon Smiley.Today, the Friends continue to play an important role dedicated to the enhancement of the Library’s services and programs.
The Friends is a 100% volunteer organization with one paid employee. There is a Board of Trustees to oversee the Friends’ operations, and the Friends continue to advocate on the Library’s behalf at the local, state and federal levels. Friends funding supports activities ranging from Homework Help Centers to Black History and Hispanic Heritage Month Celebrations, to Curtains Up!, a live theatre series, and various traveling art exhibitions. During the past decade the Library System has brought to South Florida historical, archeological and art exhibits from around the world, including Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, and Germany. Since 2001 the Friends have partnered with the Miami-Dade Cultural Affairs Council and the Miami-Dade Sister Cities Program for the purpose of an international cultural exchange project entitled The Art of Storytelling, working with library systems worldwide. Funds to support programming and other initiatives are raised through membership, donations and an Annual Book Sale.